Fortus discovered music at a young age. He began playing violin at age
four and the drums at age five.
the St. Louis Youth Symphony in his early teens and attended the
School of Visual and Performing Arts in St.Louis where he first
met Michael Schaerer. And at
age thirteen, Richard ultimately started playing guitar.
When the Psychedelic Furs began their World Outside Tour, with a not so well known opening act from St.Louis called Pale Divine, no one could have foreseen what would eventually become of this union. As the tour passed, Richard Fortus began joining the Furs on stage by playing violin on a couple songs and an artistic relationship developed between the Richards (Fortus and Butler) that would eventually lead to the end of both bands. Once the tour ended Richard Fortus and Pale Divine returned to St.Louis to begin writing/rehearsing for the next album while Richard Butler returned to New York and began contemplating a solo album. Soon he invited Fortus to write on the album. Eventually, it was clear that the project was more than just a solo album and it soon turned into a full fledged band, Love Spit Love.
Love Spit Love (1994) Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Richard Butler, Tim Butler
After months of flying back and forth from NY to STL working on the record, Richard Fortus played his final show with Pale Divine at Kennedy's on the Landing in St. Louis on July 3rd, 1993. It was a two show weekend with Pale Divine playing both Friday and Saturday night as was their tradition in familiar venues. Rich was leaving for New York to join Richard Butler and it was felt that the end had come to one of St. Louis' favorite bands.
Love Spit Love featured Richard Butler on vocals, and his brother Tim Butler on bass with Richard Fortus on guitar. Richard ran into and old friend, Frank Ferrer, in New York and brought him in to play drums. They had met a couple years earlier when Pale Divine played with Frank's former band The Beautiful. With a solid studio recording behind them, Love Spit Love was quickly signed to Imago Recording Company and released an exceptional self-titled debut in 1994 and bassist Lonnie Hillyer quickly replaced Tim Butler for touring purposes. After extensive promotion and touring, they signed a new deal with Maverick Records, then a new label owned by Madonna. Imago Records had lost their distribution deal but Maverick behind them and with bassist Chris Wilson replacing Hillyer, their followup record "Trysome Eatone" was then released in 1997.
Imago (1994) CD
seventeen, superman, half a life, jigsaw, change in the weather, wake up, am i wrong, green, please, codeine, st.mary's gate, more
SPIT LOVE: TRYSOME EATONE
Maverick (1997) CD
long long time, believe, well well well, friends, fall on tears, little fist, its when i laugh, 7 years, sweet thing, all god's children, more than money, november 5
Despite releasing two tremendously well written albums, Love Spit Love is probably most well known for their cover of the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" that was used as the theme for the movie "The Craft" and the television show "Charmed" that followed.
After touring in support of this criminally under-rated album, they officially went on hiatus and Richard Butler again began to discuss a solo project and his painting. During the downtime in NYC, the remaining members of Love Spit Love teamed up with a new singer and started to toy with a new project of their own. Eric Jakobssen (aka Eric J. Toast) formerly of The Bowery Boys from Champaign, IL was living in NYC also and led this misfit crew.
Honky Toast (1997) Richard Fortus, Frank Ferrer, Eric J, Chris Wilson
Honky Toast began as something to do for fun, but it quickly turned into a feeding frenzy as label A&R were suddenly very excited about this New York City based old school rock and roll band akin to MC5 or the Stooges. Honky Toast was loud, crude, and even obnoxious, but shortly after releasing an indie cd on Black Cat Records, Epic signed them to their 550music label. After a couple short years, they were dropped along with a long list of bands from the label while execs were trimming up the roster. For some time it appeared that Artemis Records would pick them up, however, other projects and interests eventually ended the band.
TOAST: MEAT THE HONKY
Black Cat (1997) CD
meat the honky, love bites, listen to the bass, scared boy, wild eyes girl, shakin and bakin, california, depression, i'd like to steal, good-nite honky
TOAST: WHATCHA GONNA DO HONKY?
550music (1999) CD
whatcha gonna do honky?, high school burnout, shakin' and a bakin', california, scared boy, love bites, wild-eye girl, listen to the bass, i wanna be on welfare, hair in my teeth again, free as a bird, alcoholic mama, rocks off, don't try cryin'
By this time, Rich was becoming very busy as a session player and producer in New York city. Over the years he has worked with a vast and diverse list of artists including BT, The Psychedelic Furs, Ben Folds, Gravity Kills, Jesse Malin, Pink, Puddle of Mudd, Apartment 26, Pink, Billy Idol, P.Diddy, NSYNC, Nena, Cindy Lauper, The Storm, The Divinyls, Angela McCluskey, Fiona Apple and too many more to list.
When Richard Butler and the Psychedelic Furs finally decided to reunite, Richard was on stage yet again once the tour kicked off. But instead of attacking his guitar, he very carefully crafted all of the intangible elements of the Furs' songs by playing the horned instruments and synthesized sounds on either a guitar or electric cello. Truly a very impressive performance.
The Psychedelic Furs (2000) Richard Fortus and John Ashton
The Furs released a live album in response to the success of the tour which included one brand new track as well as a couple of unreleased cuts.
BEAUTIFUL CHAOS (GREATEST HITS LIVE)
Legacy Recordings (2001) CD
india, mr.jones, heaven, the ghost in you, alive, love my way, heartbreak beat, sister europe, president gas, into you like a train, pretty in pink, numb waiters, alive (studio version)
Throughout much of 2001 and 2002, Rich was on tour with Enrique Iglesias. He also appeared on MTV's TRL and the televised 911 Benefit Concert with Enrique where he plays guitars on various songs including the hit "Hero."
Rich also toured with electronica artist BT. Not only did he play on the album he also provided an impressive punch to the stage show as he shifted from pounding rhythm on his guitar to tracelike ecstasy on an electric cello. The two also co-wrote the soundtrack to the movie "Monster" together.
And in 2004, Richard recorded a record and toured extensively with Nena (of 99 Luft Balloons fame) in Europe. The record went triple platinum in Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
But in 2002, Rich began preparing for what may perhaps be his most ambitious project yet... Guns N' Roses. Sometime around late 1999 or early 2000, Rich had received a call to audition for GNR. However, before he could audition Buckethead filled the slot. Rich met Tommy Stinson on a session date, and the two became very close friends. In the Spring of 2002, rhythm guitarist Paul Huge left the band and Rich suddenly finds himself a member of one of the biggest hard rock bands ever assembled. That year, Guns N' Roses embarked on a tour of China, Japan and then Europe, where they headlined all of the biggest festivals. They then began a US tour that ended about half way through, as there was a riot in Philadelphia after the band did not make the show. The rest of the tour was abruptly cancelled and the band returned to the studio to continue work on the album.
Guns N' Roses (2002) Buckethead, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus, Brian Mantia, Axl Rose, Chris Pittman, Tommy Stinson, Robin Finck
The new lineup, at that time, consisted of Buckethead, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus, Brian "Brain" Mantia (Primus), Axl Rose, Chris Pittman (The Replicants), Tommy Stinson (The Replacements), and Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails).
asked about Rich this is what Axl had to say...
"Paul helped us a lot in the writing and the recording of this record and to me was a vital part of not only the band but also my life. The world tour really wasn't his cup of tea whereas he's much more comfortable in a studio setting. We're fortunate to have found Richard who has this vibe kind of like Izzy but with amazing feel. The first thing I heard Richard play was the beginning of "Stray Cat Blues" by the Stones and he did it with the right feel. Richard likes to play rhythm. He's an amazing lead player and very technically skilled. He really likes the pocket that Brain sets and the two of them click with Tommy so we finally have the real deal rhythm section, as Richard is a proven professional. Basically, Richard's the guy that we always were looking for. I think that we'll go on to write some very interesting things with Richard and he's already done some rhythm work and some leads on the album."
Richard Fortus rehearsal with Guns N' Roses.
Guns N' Roses had not released a studio album since 1991 though they did release one new track on the End Of Days soundtrack in 1999. "Oh My God" was a brief glimpse at what the new GNR would have in store. The new album "Chinese Democracy" took an unbelievable fourteen years to finish and reportedly cost $13 million in all. The new Guns N' Roses boasts an incredibly impressive roster of musicians with Ron Thal (aka Bumblefoot) replacing Buckethead and Frank Ferrer replacing Brain. GNR has been touring extensively around the world in recent years and even embarked upon a much more successful US tour in 2006. "Chinese Democracy" was finally released in November of 2008 though the official world tour didn't kick off until December 2009 and continued throughout 2010.
Richard performing with Guns N' Roses in South America. (2010)
In the meantime, Rich has been kept busy with various studio projects including writing a new Psychedelic Furs record. In 2008, he completed a few dates with the Furs, a Danish band called The Storm, and also performed as a guest guitarist with X Japan at 3 sold out shows at the Tokyo Dome (55,000 people per night). He has composed scores for the movies Close Up as well as Surf Movie: Reels 1-14, and done the scores for video games such as Tony Hawk's UnderGround 2, Gun and James Bond: Quantum of Solace. He also continues to score many tv commercials and tv shows.
Richard's busy tour schedule were instrumental in both the 2008 and 2009 Pale Divine reunion concerts. In his brief downtime with GNR, Rich chose to return to STL to visit family and thus making the reunion gigs a possibility... and he was amazing as always.
Richard performing at the Pageant at the 2008 Pale Divine Reunion Concert.
In late 2010 Richard and his wife have listed their LA area home for sale and have, in fact, moved back to St.Louis. Also, a project titled Saivu was recently released featuring both Richard and Matt Tecu (formerly of the Unconscious).
Please visit Richard's official website at richardfortus.com for more information.